African Values in War: A Tool on Traditional Customs and IHL

  • PILLAGE IS PROHIBITED. ATTACKING, LOOTING AND PILLAGING OF PROPERTY WAS A VIOLATION OF DIGNITY. -- The Tallensi considered attacking, looting and pillaging of civilian property a violation of their dignity and a dishonorable act to be avoided. The Tallensi, Ghana The traditional rules which regulated the behaviour of Kamajors in warfare included the prohibition of looting villages. Sierra Leone -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “Pillage is prohibited.” GC IV Art. 33(2); AP II Art. 4(2)(g) & CIHL Rule 52
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • WOMAN, CHILDREN, THE ELDERLY AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ARE PROTECTED. ATTACKING WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY BROUGHT SHAME TO THE WARRIORS. -- The weak and vulnerable members of the enemy such as women, children and the elderly should not be harmed. Somalia Nuer tribesmen did not attack women, children or the elderly when attacking one another. South Sudan The Fulani tribe believed that attacking women children and the elderly would bring shame upon the tribe. Sahel Region -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “Woman, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities affected by armed conflict are entitled to special respect and protection.” Especially: GC IV Arts. 16(1) and 27(2); AP I Arts. 76(1) and 77(1); AP II Art. 4(3) & CIHL Rules 134, 135 and 138
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • EFFECTIVE ADVANCED WARNING SHALL BE GIVEN TO CIVILIANS BEFORE ATTACKS. SIGNALS SUCH AS BEATING DRUMS WERE GIVEN TO WARN OF UPCOMING BATTLES. -- When the Ashanti were faced with battle, a royal drum was beaten to signal the upcoming battle and to call the warriors whilst warning civilians of upcoming danger. The Ashanti, Ghana In the Oronn district in Nigeria, when one town decided to go to war against another, two men were sent to lay a plantain leaf upon the road entering the town, signaling an official declaration of war and warning civilians of impending hostilities. Nigeria -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “Effective advanced warning shall be given of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit.” AP I Art. 57(2)(c) & CIHL Rule 20
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • PARTIES TO THE CONFLICT MUST AT ALL TIMES DISTINGUISH BETWEEN CIVILIANS AND COMBATANTS. WARRIORS DONNED DISTINCTIVE ARMBANDS. -- Maasai warriors wore distinctive armbands to distinguish themselves from the civilian population. The Maasai, Kenya -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “In order to promote the protection of the civilian population from the effects of hostilities, combatants are obliged to distinguish themselves from the civilian population while they are engaged in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack...” AP I Art. 44(3)(sentence 1) & CIHL Rule 106 (sentence 1)
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • INDISPENSABLE OBJECTS ARE PROTECTED. A WELL MAY BE DUG BY ONE MAN, BUT IT IS NOT USED BY HIM ALONE. -- Destroying the plains used for cattle grazing or poisoning the wells needed for survival was strongly disapproved of. Somalia -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “The use of poison or poisoned weapons is prohibited.” “Attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population is prohibited.” AP I Art. 54(2); AP II Art. 14 & CIHL Rules 72 and 54
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • CULTURAL PROPERTY IS PROTECTED. WARRIORS WOULD NOT DESECRATE THE PLACE OF REST OF THEIR ANCESTORS NOR OF SAINTS. -- It was strictly forbidden for Fulani warriors to desecrate sacred places such as the tombs of chiefs and ancestors, mosques and buildings erected over the tombs of individuals regarded as saints. The Fulani -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “The dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner and their graves respected and properly maintained.” “Each party to the armed conflict must respect and protect institutions dedicated to religion, charity, education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works of art and science.” Among others: GC I Art. 17; GC III Art. 120; GC IV Art. 130; AP I Arts. 34 and 53; AP II Art 16 & CIHL Rules 38, 40 and 115
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • THE BODIES OF THE DEAD MUST BE RESPECTED AND PROTECTED. THE BODIES OF THE ENEMY DEAD COULD NOT BE DESECRATED OR SEARCHED. -- It was strictly forbidden to desecrate the bodies of the enemy dead or take their possessions for personal gain. Somalia -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “Each party to the armed conflict must take all possible measures to prevent the dead from being despoiled.” “Mutilation of dead bodies is prohibited.” Especially: GC I Art. 15(1); GC II Art. 18(1); GC IV Art. 16(2); AP I Art. 34(1); AP II Art. 8 & CIHL Rule 113
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • PARLEMENTAIRES MAY NOT BE ATTACKED. MESSENGERS AND WARRIORS NO LONGER FIGHTING WERE PROTECTED FROM ATTACK BY USING FACE PAINT OR HOLDING BATONS OR GRASS. -- Tribes in the Sahel Region made messengers carry a distinctive emblem such as an official baton or donned face paint which exempted them from fighting and protected them from attacks. Sahel Reg. -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “Parlementaires* are inviolable.” “Parlementaires taking advantage of their privileged position to commit an act contrary to international law and detrimental to the adversary lose their inviolability.” “The improper use of the white flag of truce is prohibited.” CIHL rules 58, 66, 67 and 69 *parlementaire: person belonging to a party to the conflict who has been authorized to enter into communication with another party to the conflict.
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • ZONES ESTABLISHED TO SHELTER THE WOUNDED, THE SICK AND CIVILIANS FROM THE EFFECTS OF HOSTILITIES MAY NOT BE ATTACKED. FIGHTING BETWEEN TRIBES TOOK PLACE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE. -- Tribes in Senegal, Togo and Ghana only fought outside the village to protect the women, children and elderly, or they were relocated to a safe area during the fighting. Senegal, Togo and Ghana -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “Parties to an armed conflict may establish hospital, safety and neutralized zones to shelter the wounded, the sick and civilians from the effects of hostilities.” “Directing an attack against a zone established to shelter the wounded, the sick and civilians from the effects of hostilities is prohibited.” GC I Art. 23; GC IV Arts. 14 and 15 & CIHL Rule 35
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva
  • ATTACKS MUST BE PROPORTIONATE. EXCESSIVE AND BRUTAL ACTS OF WAR BROUGHT ABOUT DIVINE RETRIBUTION. -- Any act of war that was characterized by excessiveness and brutality would bring divine retribution upon the perpetrator and his offspring. Somalia -- RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW “Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.” AP I Art. 51(5)(b) & CIHL Rule 14
    Illustration: Anastasya Eliseeva